By David Poland firstname.lastname@example.org
Weekend Estimates by Kladyweenie
Taken 2 is one of those movies. You know what it is. You can make fun of it being the same movie, probably not as good, all over again. And yet… you just have to go see it.
It’s easily the best Liam Neeson opening as the center of the film, behind only Phantom Menace, Titans, voice work as the Lion in 2 Narnias, and an appearance in Dark Knight Rises. Even if you include his bigger role in Batman Begins, T2 still tops it.
It’s also the 3rd best opening ever in October, behind only Paranormal 3 and Jackass 3D (both phenom franchises from Paramount). Though it is certainly worth pointing out, the only films to get to or past the $120m mark after opening in October are non-sequels (Meet The Parents, Shark Tale, Puss in Boots, Look Who’s Talking, The Departed, American Beauty, The Ring). I expect the same will be true of Taken 2… as in, nothing close to the $145m of Taken, which is Neeson’s best grosser as lead… again, behind those bigger movies that he was not the center of, this time with Batman Begins joining the list.
This is also Fox’s 2nd best domestic opening this year and 4th best dom opening in the last 2 years, behind only Prometheus, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and X-Men: First Class. Of course, the best of those was $55.2 million, so that might explain why “the international guy,” Jim Gianopulos, is now at the top of Fox movies by himself.
After a decent hold this weekend, it’s clear that Hotel Transylvania will be Sony Animation’s 2nd $100m+ domestic grosser after Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs. (Those guys, by the way, are now working on The Lego Movie.) Now you know why DreamWorks is at Fox and not Sony. Fox has had a lot more success in animation overall, but Sony remains bullish on their future in this area, while Fox seems not to quite believe that there’s much life after Ice Age… and with DWA talking about 3 films a year, no room for one. Personally, I am hoping for a Genndy Tartakovsky feature film built from scratch. (He specifically wants to do a Samurai Jack feature.)
Pitch Perfect did well in its expansion this weekend. It didn’t bust out. But here’s the deal. It was inexpensive (under $20m). It didn’t have a “hot” commercial lead… unlike Kirsten Dunst (who’d fronted three high-profile movies in row before Bring It On) and Gabrielle Union (who had a lot of heat, especially with “urban” audiences). And with this expansion, we’re really in what would be a 1st weekend in other situations. So… if it dies off at $35m, it’s not a thriller. If it gets a little leggy and gets over $50m, you have to count it as a real success, both for Universal and the film’s rising producers.
Looper is rolling along nicely, if not thrillingly. But $100m worldwide seems very, very likely at this point and that makes it a hit. The window for the must-see buzz movies for adults out there is closing with Argo opening next weekend.
Frankenweenie opened about 42% behind The Corpse Bride. Why? The pitch. What was it? I don’t know what Disney intended to sell… no log line buzzing around in my head. You also have the basic problems with selling a dark kids movie, as Paranorman also suffered this year. But I am taking that into account… and this one is opening about 15% behind Paranorman, which didn’t have the Burton name to front the film. Which brings me back to… it looked beautiful… adults could fill in the dotted line to Burton’s other animation and even Edward Scissorhands. BUT… if I was going to the movie, what could I expect… aside from a dead dog coming to life with cool creepy stop-motion animation? No idea. Marketing fail.
I am convinced that Clint left $20 million or more in that empty chair on the RNC stage. Regardless of the politics, no studio wants to be releasing any non-doc where the lead is taking clear sides right before release. I haven’t seen the movie. I would probably like this movie. But I will not be seeing this movie until the disc lands on my doorstep. Someone I have revered for most of my adult life has made himself significantly less interesting. Very sad.
End of Watch is the biggest grosser that David Ayer has been directed, so a win for him. It’s a relentless hard-R movie, so $40m domestic or so is pretty good. And it was, allegedly, under $10m to make. But I can’t help but feel that this film hasn’t gotten its due. Critics should be talking about it more… but in the middle of the festival season, it’s been snowed under by higher profile movies and a parade of great foreign filmmakers offering up interesting discussion. I don’t think Open Road did anything wrong. It’s just hard to be this movie right now. Even Looper overshadows it, with Rian Johnson being a geek beloved, heat around Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and a bit more accessibility as a not-too-hard R.
And speaking of disappearances… The Master will be right on top of a lot of Top Ten lists this year. But man, did this epic effort by Paul Thomas Anderson and Megan Ellison and The Weinstein Company hit the wall in a hurry. In some ways, the fact that this film could well be the lowest-grossing film of PTA’s post-Sydney/Hard Eight career might help during awards season, as it will probably galvanize the film’s lovers in pushing it harder when the time comes. It’s now an underdog. Tough business.